Same-sex vs Opposite-sex Parenting – Just How ‘Natural’ is it all?

Jerry Mahoney, of Mommy Man fame, mentioned that an article he had written had been re-blogged (Feb 24th) by an Australian site called news.com.au.  After reading the comments that followed Jerry’s re-posted blog, I was rather appalled at the degree of negativity I found in them (well, until I realized that this site has affiliations with Fox).  The general mood of the comments seemed to be that parenting by same-sex couples was wrong, because it was ‘unnatural’.  Here’s a selection of what those who commented had to say:

  •  “nature intended a male and a female to raise offspring”, or
  • “kids need their biological mother and biological father”, or simply
  • “(gays) are not meant to have children because it’s unnatural”

Yes yes – in general, I do know better than to read such comments, but like seeing a car crash, I sometimes can’t stop myself.  Anyways.  My biggest beef about these comments is that their argument is confused… though understandably so.  These people have equated HAVING children with RAISING children.  So in this, their argument is correct; same-sex fertilization is not natural, nor possible.  However, same-sex parenting – or parenting of any kind for that matter – is a completely separate issue.

Fact: stick any two sexually mature humans of the opposite sex together and poof – you’ll eventually get a kid, once they find the right holes and all.  But DO NOT try to tell me that this automatically makes them the best parents for said kid.  Because those two breeders may have been a 14 year old girl, and a 45 year old pedophile.

Let’s have a closer look at that word ‘natural’, as it relates to reproduction and parenting:

1.  Opposite-sex reproduction is ‘natural’.

Well, no.  Life has been around for about 4 billion years – 3 billion of which nobody had any sex whatsoever (ie: all life reproduced asexually).  Which means that sex is relatively new.  Sort of like gay marriage.

Or, let’s talk actual lifeforms, rather than time-frames.  Of all the life that exists – or existed – on Earth, tens of millions of species reproduce(d) asexually.  Only 2 million or so do/did it with sex.  So once again, sexual reproduction is clearly in the minority, if you look at the overall diversity of life on our planet.

2.  Opposite-sex parenting is ‘natural’.

Again, nope.  Most animals don’t even raise their young – they lay their egg(s), then crawl/hop/fly/squirm away.  It’s mostly just mammals (dogs, mice, humans, horses, whales, etc.) who even deign to stick around after the little tykes are born.  And of all the 5500 or so species of mammals, only 200 or so practice any degree of social monogamy (ie: they act as a couple.  Notice I mentioned nothing about sexual monogamy…).

same-sex fertilization does not equal same-sex parenting

opposite-sex fertilization does not equal opposite-sex parenting!

3.  Same-sex parenting is not ‘natural’, and therefore wrong, and henceforth to be avoided.

Well, I agree that it’s not common.  Yet.  But here are a few other things that aren’t ‘natural’, and I’d bet you my last penny (oops – never mind – Canada just got rid of those!) that every single person who finds same-sex parenting ‘unnatural’ is more than happy to embrace:

-polyester clothes;

-automobiles;

-microwaves;

-air conditioning;

-cell phones;

-internet;

-processed foods; and hey – let’s not forget

human rights

.                             …need I go on?

what's natural, indeed?

Heterosexism & Misandry from a Gay Dad’s Perspective

Here I am, waiting for my car to be repaired; I figured that a good use of my time would be to fire off a blog… so here it is!  Ohh, be warned though: it’s another rant-y one, so if you’re in the mood for an uplifting online experience, go google kittens or something.

If, however, you’re willing to humour me while I relate to you a couple little things that irk me, then please read on!

To start off with, let’s define a few terms, just so we’re all on the same page:

Heterosexism: Discrimination or prejudice against gays and lesbians based on the presumption that everyone in the world is heterosexual.  Example: asking a gay man what his wife does for a living.

Misandry: disdain or hatred for men.  Most of you have likely heard of misogyny; this is the male version.  Example: almost ANY baby book you can find… I’ll elaborate later.

Ever since becoming fathers, hubby and I have been literally bombarded with heterosexist comments and misandrist marketing, making it quite clear that – despite living in one of the most accepting nations on the planet when it comes to same-sex relationships – we still don’t quite fit in properly.   In case you are wondering what exactly I’m talking about, have a look at this short list of typical heterosexist comments that people make when meeting either him or me out in public with our kids:

Heterosexist Comments

1.  “Where’s is his mommy?” (bending over and squeezing son’s cheek)

2.  “Awwww – are you giving mommy a break?” (to me, in patronizing tone)

3.  “Dad’s turn to do some shopping, eh?” <nudge, nudge>

4.  “Out with daddy today for a change, are you?” (to my son)

5.  “Oh – you’ve got the day off from work?” (assuming that my ‘wife’ is – of course – raising the kids)

          or, when they find out that I’m  a stay-at-home-Dad:

6.  “Didn’t your wife take maternity leave?” (slightly worried, covertly checking over my son for obvious signs of neglect)

6.  “So what does your wife do?”

7.  “Oh – so your wife wears the pants in the family!” (chuckle, chuckle)

Gay dads have a couple of options when faced with this.  When I first began to get those comments, I just chuckled them off, as if I were amused by people’s playful prodding.  Later on though, it began to get a bit tedious, and I would – on occasion – gently explain that my son didn’t have a ‘mommy’, and that his other daddy was at home, or at work, or in another store.  Nowadays, I find comments like that downright infuriating, and my replies have begun to take on a more aggressive tone: I usual ‘educate’ the offending party on what heterosexism means, and how it makes me feel.  Sometimes, they take my lesson in good humour.  Sometimes they don’t.

It doesn’t stop there, though (woe is me!).  I’ve found that marketing for and around anything “baby” is insidiously and ubiquitously misandrist (disdainful of men’s role).  In a world where there were no gay dads, and all straight dads are big, burly and leave all the mothering to their women, nobody would bat an eyelash at this stuff.  However, gay dads are here to stay, and ALL DADS today have an obligation to be off their asses and co-parenting with their partners in equal proportions.  We no longer live in the 1950’s, boys. 

(If you’re a straight dad and you’re sitting on your ass, letting your woman raise the kids, get off your ass right now and start co-parenting in equal proportion to your partner)

Ahem.  Anywho – I was talking about insidious, misandrist marketing.  Here are some examples of misandry that you might have noticed, but not noticed:

Misandrist Marketing

1.  Parking spots for expectant and new mothers – yes, the ‘expectant’ part is for mothers alone, but there are new dads out there too who would really appreciate the odd conveniently-located parking spot on occasion!

2.  Virtually 100% of literature dealing with newborn babies.

      -the covers of these items either have babies on them, or babies AND doting mothers.  Find me a generic baby book that has a baby and her daddy on the cover, and I will give you… well, I probably won’t give you anything, but I will send that book’s publisher a personal letter of thanks and appreciation.

       -the inside of these books often treat “daddies” as inconvenient necessities for new mothers.  These ‘daddy’ creatures (we’re told) need to be given very specific make-work tasks, as well as provide for every comfort that a mother may need, while she coddles and cuddles and does all the important bonding stuff with the new baby.  I got about 30 pages into one of these books (back when hubby and I were first adopting son #1) when I hurled it into the trash can, so sick was I of the male-bashing that permeated the pages.  I was wholly revolted by the degree of lecturing to men about how to overcome our baser urges and animal instincts, such that I completely missed any valuable information that may have been in there.  Eventually, we came across a book that seemed to indicate that ‘daddy’ could contribute in a meaningful manner, and was even capable of holding a child while not forgetting that it was not a football.

3.  “Moms & Tots” – a category of activities that can be enjoyed by… babies and their mothers.  Only.  Think play groups, think baby swimming time, think little tyke skating hours – you name it.  There is a ‘Moms & Tot’s skating hour that we have been taking our eldest son to for a few years, which costs $1.  They leave a box outside the rink, cutely labelled “Kids – free; Mom’s – $1”.  Since my son is a kid and I’m not a mom, I have yet to pay even once.  And no, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty.  Ironically, that particular kids skate is attended almost exclusively by dads and grandparents – I expect that the arena doesn’t depend on the income from this skate, else they would have been out of business ages ago.

4.  Slogans by companies peddling baby-related products – look up any website selling baby products and tell me what pics you see.  Yep, babies.  And?  Mommies.  You have to search pretty thoroughly to find a generic website picture with just a dad and his baby (sure, there’ll be the odd ‘daddy-can-help-too!’ section; however, I’m not helping to raise my kids, I AM raising them, so to hell with those areas).  Some of the slogans or tags  I’ve come across (without identifying the guilty parties) include:

  • we’re here for You, Mom!
  • Mommy Tools
  • All About Mom
  • Moms and their babies
  • Mommy answers
  • Calling all Mothers
  • You’re Doing Ok, Mom!
  • Maternal Instincts

ugh.

Ok, so about now, you straight readers are wondering: why is he making such a big deal about this stuff?  Well, the deal is that there is a more inclusive way of going about your daily business, whether as a pedestrian or a business owner.  Yes, 90% of males you’ll meet out there are at least nominally straight, so asking about their wives won’t be discriminatory.  However, asking about somebody’s spouse or partner includes EVERYBODY (uhm… well everybody that has a spouse or partner, I guess… sorry single parents!).  And yes, pictures of cutsie babies and MILF’s undeniably help to sell products.  Well, cosmetics companies learned about 35 years ago that marketing solely to white women was starting to hurt their bottom line.  Wisely, most of them (the ones that are still in business) diversified their products and started advertising to ALL women.  Perhaps it’s about time baby product companies featured some eye-catching DILF’s on – say – half their product labels; pictures of cute dads would still appeal to all the straight women out there, as well as all us gay dads!  Lesbians could buy the products with traditional labels, of course 😉

Anyways – some food for thought next time you see a Dad out with his kid. 🙂

Got some heterosexist / misandrist experiences to tell?  Leave them below and share the pain!

Move aside ladies – the Men are here…

…When I say ‘ladies’, of course, I mean my Mom and Mom-in-law.  And when I say ‘move aside’, I mean ‘uhm, just change his diaper the first few times for us, so that we can watch and learn… from over here’.

Back from the hospital

Honey, I’m home…

Hubby and I were very fortunate to have had both our sets of parents present when we brought our first adoptive son home from the hospital.  Despite the bravado and coolness I was attempting to display on the outside, I did not have one sweet clue as to what to do with this new little human.  When the social workers had ‘passed’ him over to us at the hospital, he was already fastened in his car seat; I had yet to even hold him in my arms.

So, yes – if you are about to bring home a baby for the first time, do your best to surround yourself with as many experienced hands as you can – friends, family, neighbours or whom so ever you can find (within reason, of course).  Our Moms ever so gently took charge for the first few hours, while our Dads sat around talking about sports (ugh, yes, I know – how disgustingly stereotypical – it’s a wonder hubby and I managed to turn out as gay and well-adjusted as we did, despite the hotbeds of heterosexism and outdated gender roles that we were exposed to in our youth).  In any case, for the first few hours after son #1 came home, we were witness to the subtle art of ‘managing a baby’.  Oh, and the not-so-subtle art of ‘Mom & Mom-in-Law one upmanship’.  Or is that one upwomanship?

My Mom got to take him out of the car seat and hold him first; hubby’s Mom changed his first diaper; my Mom fed him for a few minutes, then they switched, etc, etc.

And that’s it.

Yep – that’s what you do with babies for the first little bit: hold them, feed them, change them, and repeat.

And then guess what?  My Dad held him… and then hubby’s Dad – and the baby was still fine; no dropping, no shrieking, no disaster.

I might say that I had an epiphany at that moment, but honestly, I already knew it – men can hold a baby without the sky falling.  Womankind is not a magical species, specifically designed to raise babykind.  Humankind is all alike, differentiated largely by social norms shoved down our throats from infancy (thou shalt wear blue; thou shalt play with trucks, thou shalt only play with barbies if your intent is to rip off their heads to piss off your sister, etc., etc.).

In any case, both hubby and I are capable of holding eight pounds gently in our arms.  We both have at least as much dexterity and hand-eye coordination as our Moms do.  Between us, we have 13 years of post-secondary education, and aren’t so old that we can’t pick up new tricks.  “So,” we asked ourselves, after having observed the process for a few hours, “…can we do it?”  We shared a collective intake of breath, then chanted: “Yes! We! Can!”  (ok, so maybe it didn’t go exactly like that, but after you start watching hours and hours of Bob-the-Builder, you’ll be quoting him too).

I graciously thanked my Mom and Dad for sharing the afternoon with us and with their new grandson, then sent them on their way.  They live 1/2 hour away, which is nice.  Not too far, but not too close, either.  My in-laws are a different matter.  I graciously thanked them as well, but they just stood there, having nowhere to go but our guest bedroom.  There are benefits and drawbacks to having your in-laws live many hours away.

Ok – so you’ve both watched the women in your lives do the heavy lifting with your newborn and silently catalogued all their moves and tricks.  You’ve watched the men in your lives sit on their asses, letting the womanfolk do the heavy lifting, and silently chided them while acknowledging their dated worldview.  Now it’s time for YOU to get your hands (literally) dirty.

Dive in!  You have to.  Either you’ve sent everybody home, and there is nobody left to save you, or you have to show those who remain that you’re capable, so that they’ll eventually LEAVE, comforted knowing that the newest member of your household is in safe hands.

Sit down beside that little human and pick him up.  Cradle him in one arm, then the other – figure out which side is more comfortable for you… and him.  Yeah yeah yeah, and ‘watch his head’ (that’s my Mom’s favourite warning for my Dad whenever he picks up a tiny human).  Put him back down.  Pick him up again.  Kiss him gently.  Look at his funny little fingers, at his tiny toes.  Look at yourself in the mirror with him.  Pass him to your significant-other.  Take their picture.  Actually, take 10, cuz the first nine will not flatter either of them.

Warm up his little bottle (get a pack or two of the instant-serve formula bottles, as well as some disposable nipples – that’ll make your life a bit easier before you have to start making your own formula).  Get him set up in your arms, with whatever arrangement of blankets and towels that those lady-folk used while you were watching from the sidelines (eventually, you’ll come up with your own routine; I’ve actually mastered the art of no-handed infant feeding… what do you think I’m doing right now? 😉 ).  Now stick that nipple into his little mouth and watch him suck.  Both our boys drank anywhere from 15mL – 30mL per feeding during their first 24 hours at home.  Don’t worry: he will let you know when he’s done (he’ll either fall asleep in your arms, or fidget and spit the nipple out).  For the first little bit (I hesitate to use ‘days’ or ‘week’, because each baby will be different), your joy-bundle will be feeding every two hours.  In fact, your whole life will be reset to a two-hour cycle.  An endless two-hour cycle.

Oh, and don’t forget to burp him while feeding, or he’ll be puking all over you in one minute from now.    Burp him often the first few times you feed him.  You’ll eventually establish a routine with burping too – it’ll be obvious (puking-ly obvious) how much formula you should let him drink between burps.  Oh, and hey: the more burps you do early on, the more practice you’ll get transferring him from a feeding position to a burping position!  I started burping my first boy on my shoulder, but found that it caused him to bring up all his formula rather than just the gas in his belly, so I switched to sitting-up-burps, where he sits on one of your legs, facing the other.  You support him by cupping his chin and cheeks with one hand (yes, it looks like you’re choking him; no, you’re not), and tap/rub his back with the other.  Since you’ll need to master burping right away, I’ve embedded this video (thank you Howcast!).  Take what you need from it and disregard the rest (I cringed when I saw the on-his-belly burp method):

So everybody’s gone home, he’s done feeding (and burping) for now, and you’re both sitting there wondering: what next?  Yep.  Unfortunately, it’s that time.  You must now Change His Diaper.

Again, do yourself a favour and DIVE IN (yuck, yep – literally).  Hopefully you’ve set up a changing station somewhere.  Either you’ve succumbed to the consumer urge and bought a frighteningly stylish change table complete with side cabinets and hutch, five shelves, five drawers, detailed beveled edges, curved side & inset panels, exclusive finishes and optional wood swatches. Or you’ve just put a towel down on your bed.  We do the latter, and it works just fine.  End result = diaper changed.

So, set the small human down on the towel/whatever and unbutton his onesie.  Up until the point where we brought our first son home, ‘onesie’ for me meant the oddly attractive one-piece triathlon suits that hubby wears to his races.

Evolution of the Onesie

The evolution of the meaning of ‘onesie’ in our household

Anyways, moving on.  You’ve got the little guy laying on a flat surface.  Next, you unbutton the onesie, slide it off and/or push it up, undo the diaper tabs, pull the diaper front down and…

                    …OH MY GOD – What. Is. That?!?!?!

No – you don’t need to call in a favour from Sigourney Weaver; it’s just the umbilical cord.  And don’t worry – I won’t post an actual picture of it.  Sufficed to say, you’re going to have this little bit of vileness coming along for the ride for roughly a week, before it gets bored and drops off of its own accord.  In the meantime, whenever you change your little guy, make sure his diaper doesn’t overlap the cord (you can fold the top of the diaper down).  Also, keep an eye on his belly button – take note of what it looked like the first time you saw it – if it starts to get (more) red and puffy looking, you could be dealing with an infection, which needs to be dealt with ASAP (ie: by a medical professional).

So, you’re both cool with how the umbilical cord looks (well, after getting over the initial shock).  Next, grab your little tyke’s ankles with one hand, lift up his bum and slide that diaper out from underneath him…

         … ARGH!!!!!  WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS THAT!?!?!?!?

Yeah, you’re in for shock number two.  What you guys are probably looking at is a diaper full of what can only be described as syrupy crude oil.  Amazingly, this is completely normal.  It’s called meconium, which means ‘fecal discharge from a newborn infant’, or, alternatively ‘poppy juice’.  Don’t get any ideas.

Babies first poo

Are babies a source of crude oil?!

So anyways, just clean it up – it’s a bit sticky, but has no odour that I can remember, and only lasts for a few poops, before you move onto poo-phase-two (chunky yellow-green purée).  Cleaning can be accomplished in any number of ways.  Disposable wet wipes are quick and convenient and mean that you are a SWORN ENEMY TO THE ENVIRONMENT.  Alternatively, just wet one of the myriad little baby face cloths* that everybody and their dog will be giving you as soon as they hear that ‘you two wonderful boys are bringing home a little one’ (*Be warned – you will get told off by the little guy in one of two ways if the cloth is too cold: 1) shrieking; or 2) pissing all over you).  Later on, once the umbilical cord has fallen off, you can do a proper job of cleaning him over the sink.  I much prefer this method, rather than just spreading feces around his crotch until you can’t see it anymore, then putting another diaper on him.  No wonder so many babies get diaper rashes all the time.  But I digress.

He’s all clean?  Good.  Now slip a new diaper on, fasten it.  Put the onesie back on and presto.  Just like that.  Easy, eh?  Yeah, of course it’s not.  The good news, is that practice makes perfect and that’s something that you guys are going to have (heh heh ) lots of.  Lots of.  LOTS OF. 

  • Got the diaper on backwards?  Well, one of you will figure it out and (gently) chide the other. 
  • Diaper not fastened quite snuggly enough?  Well, leaking poo is a strong motivator. 
  • Little legs flailing about ceaselessly, while his penis is squirting you purely out of spite?  You’ll develop methods of single-hand multi-tasking like you never thought possible.

Ok!  Well, you’ve done it.  You both got your mini human being home in one piece, got a glimpse of how the basics are accomplished, and had a hand in trying them all yourselves.  Your little sleeping angel is well-fed, has a nice clean diaper on, and is snuggling contentedly in your arms as your significant-other looks over your shoulder lovingly.  All three of you have survived the first few hours at home together.

       Whew! (wiping brow).

Now, go and have a nice long, hot shower and jump into bed for a deep and peaceful sleep.

Ha.  Suckers.

Gay Dads do it Better

Hello,

Welcome to my blog “2 Dads are better than 1”; thank you for checking it out.  My name is Gary, and I live in Eastern Ontario with my husband, our two sons and our two dogs.  I’ve begun this blog in response to the overwhelmingly heterosexist and misandrist (man-hating) attitude that this planet has towards parenting.  My goal is to dispel the notion that child-rearing is purely the bailiwick of (straight) women, and to demonstrate that two guys are just as good at raising kids (if not better, in my not-so-humble opinion) than any other parental combination.

*Disclaimer* – I am not a doctor, nor a psychologist, nor a counsellor, nor any other type of professional in the field of child-rearing.  I am merely a father of two, and anything I may post from here on in is my opinion or my best guess, garnered from experiences my husband and I had with our two boys.  I may also re-post items from other sources.  Nothing you read in here should be considered gospel with respect to child-rearing.  First off, there is no such thing as gospel with respect to child-rearing.  Second, you should always take anything you read online with a grain of salt.  There.  Consider yourselves forewarned.

Ok!  We’ve got the intro out of the way, now it’s time to find out why – when it comes to parenting – gay dads do it better!